Before I opened my eyes last Monday morning, I knew that I was struggling.
Even as my eyes remained closed, I felt the shadow of the dark cloud hovering over me. I struggled against some leaded, emotional weight pushing deep into my heart causing an ache that I couldn’t figure out.
I’m no Debbie Downer. Unless someone throws a spider at me or swipes the last cookie, I’m generally in a good mood. But, not always. Like you, there are times in life when I feel down.
Last Monday was one of those down days.
I felt as if my joy had been snatched away. My energy was MIA, too. Overnight, my mojo became a no-go.
Am I depressed?
Seven years ago, I endured a year-long struggle with depression and anger. At first, I went to counseling. Then, my wise family doctor suggested medicine. Yes, Lord! The combination of counseling and an antidepressant restored my mental wellness and clarity. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without mental health and medical intervention.
So, last week I wondered if I was experiencing some early depression. I wasn’t bothered by the thought, especially since I knew where to find help. (By the way, here’s a tremendous article on anxiety and depression.)
As I pondered that question, I forced myself out of bed to start my morning routine. I still hoped that the solution to my sadness was simply explained.
I ate breakfast. Didn’t help.
I worked out. And I cried during my workout. Not good.
I engaged in my daily bible reading. Always helpful. But…
My sadness clung to me like a two-year toddler who doesn’t want to go to daycare.
Next, I went for a prayer walk. I ended up at the art museum in my neighborhood. There’s a beautiful sculpture garden in front of the museum that features large works of art with aromatic flower gardens all around.
As I stood in the sculpture garden, I begged God to lift my sadness.
God, if you can’t lift my sadness, PLEASE let me feel Your presence.
I spent about an hour walking among the flowers and laying atop a giant tire swing looking at the blue sky. Yet, streaming tears still flowed down my face.
The heaviness refused to go away. But, God was there with me.
Have you ever felt your joy just disappear?
Often, we can point to certain life circumstances that shift us from happy into sadness. Financial issues. Relationship conflict. Job drama. Rebellious kids. Lack of sleep. Medical issues. Any one or two of those rain down on our lives and we’re not surprised when we feel a little down.
Our usual strategy for dealing with our sadness includes the “four big binges”:
When we’re feeling bad, it’s easy to overdo things that are bad for us. No judgement here. I’ve done it, too. But, there’s a truth that we cannot ignore: Over-doing anything on the binge list will undermine your mental and physical health.
“It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not safe to stay there.”
This is something that we say at our church often. Why? Because no one is perfect and we all struggle. However, struggle isn’t an excuse to sit and do nothing.
Taking care of yourself is an action and it doesn’t happen by accident. Your life matters and no one else can take care of you, but you!
Repeat after me: When I’m feeling my worst, I must care for myself the BEST!
For me, that means that I must be extra kind to myself. So, I followed this “Take Care of Me” plan on that difficult Monday:
I didn’t punish myself for having a bad day. No negative self-talk!
I ate healthy foods and stayed away from unhealthy foods that I would regret later.
I soaked in the bathtub and used all of my favorite bath salts and scrubs.
I listened to music and read books that were good for my heart, mind and soul.
While my sad mood persisted, I felt good about taking care of myself. The next morning I reached out to a few close friends for support. I knew that if my sadness continued for a week that I’d get some medical help. NOTE: If you’ve been sad and feeling at a loss for more than two weeks, you NEED to call your healthcare provider.
For the next couple of days, I kept taking care of myself. Eventually, the dark cloud lifted and I know that intentional, active self-care made a HUGE difference.
TELL ME! How do you take care of yourself when you’re feeling down? Share your comments and help another woman out there! Share this post with your friends, too!
A FREE GIFT FOR YOU!
I’ve created a webpage with a list of 101 Ways for You to Care For Yourself. If you struggle with self-care, print this list and commit to doing at least five things on this list per day.
Thanks to the ladies on my Enough Already Launch Team for helping me brainstorm the list!